On Stress, Having, and Making

Chris’ post this week got me thinking about the places in my life I wasn’t practicing what I preached. One of my favorite things to do with our teenagers was to practice silence and meditation during the stressful periods. August always seems to be a stressful time. New schedules. New schools. New routines. Change all around.

I had some research I had saved on a piece of paper (now lost in a box somewhere!) on the effects of meditation on stress. Meditation is one of the leading stress reducers. So during the stressful points of school, we would practice meditation. I used the research because it shows that even if you haven’t bought into Jesus, there is something about silence that is useful.

We need times to be alone. To concentrate on something beyond ourselves. To turn off all of our technology. To disconnect with everything else and reconnect with God. It gives us the ability to deal with the stressful things in life without being overwhelmed. And it helps us be the kind of people who make a difference in the world.

But what I have seen in my life is that my most stressful times usually revolve around busyness. The busier I get, the more stressed I am. And the busier I get, the less time I have to stop and concentrate on God. Stress is a vicious cycle. I realized I had been forcing this practice on others for years, but right now I was completely ignoring it in my own life.

Then I drove by a gym whose sign said this: It is not about having time. It’s about making time.

I thought that was brilliant. Because the busier I get, the more I need space to be alone and quiet with God. Martin Luther said if he didn’t start his day off in three hours of prayer, the devil had already won. And it was a statement about his busy activity. He wasn’t saying that he had nothing better to do. He was saying his busy schedule required him to have more alone time with God.

We physical, emotionally and spiritually need to stop and be quiet and unplug as we become more stressed. And the busier we get, the more we need it.

But requires making time in our lives for it. Life won’t do it for us.

We can’t wait until things slow down. We need it before then. We need to make the space and margin in our life to unplug and begin to make sense of our world. Otherwise we run through life stressed and hurried. We need to make the time.

How do you make room to unplug in your life?

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